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J Agric Saf Health. 2008 Jan;14(1):93-103.

Projected incidence and cost of tractor overturn-related injuries in the United States.

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  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health, Southeast Center for Agricultural Health and Injury Prevention, College of Public Health, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA.


In 2004, the Agricultural Safety and Health Centers, supported by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, launched an initiative to conduct research on the consequences of and approaches to control of agricultural tractor-related injuries. The most significant cause of fatal injuries is associated with tractor overturns, and a recognized intervention to control these injuries is equipping the tractor with a rollover protective structure (ROPS). The purpose of this study was to determine the incidence of tractor-related fatal and nonfatal injuries and their social costs. Based upon the annual average incidence of 125 tractor-overturn-related fatalities in the U.S. for the period 1992 to 2002, an analysis was conducted of injuries over the 25-year period 1997 to 2021. Using the number of fatalities as an index value, the analysis found that in 1997, there were a total of 2,412 tractor overturns. These overturns were associated with 125 deaths and 573 nonfatal injuries requiring at least outpatient treatment. Compared to ROPS-equipped tractors, 123 (98.6%) deaths and 543 (95%) of nonfatal injuries were associated with non-ROPS tractor overturns. The undiscounted social cost of these injuries totaled $1.5 billion in 2006 dollars for the 25-year period when using cost factors for the agricultural population. When discounted at 3%, this total was $1.1 billion, and when discounted at 5%, it was $0.9 billion. In an alternative analysis, when using cost factors for all occupations including agriculture, the undiscounted social cost totaled $2.9 billion, $2.1 billion when discounted at 3%, and $1.7 billion discounted at 5% for the 25-year period. Non-ROPS tractors as compared to ROPS-equipped tractors account for at least 97% of the costs, no matter the discount rate or cost factors used.

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